In August 2022, the Local Government Association commissioned a programme of Action Learning Sets (ALS) that will bring together local authority councillors and officers to address challenges they currently face relating to decarbonising transport. The blog summarises the outcome of the second session.
Following session one and having a better understanding of how the action learning set process works, all groups came to the second session armed with many great topics to discuss. This blog summarises the findings from session two. All groups have provided similar feedback over the value of the ALS process, including:
- being part of the ALS shows how different areas are all facing the similar problem and it is comforting to know everyone is in the same boat
- it is extremely valuable listening to other people’s perspectives and examples of how they would approach a challenge.
Challenges and enablers
The following challenges were discussed during the second ALS session.
What transport decarbonisation opportunities are available for smaller and rural towns and villages?
EVs are a good option but what are the decarbonisation opportunities to get people to stop driving when there are limited bus services.
- Understand if there is a role for rural mobility hubs – how can people live more locally?
- Partner with other councils to support rural areas
- Look into the role of Demand Responsive Transport, Car Clubs/ shared vehicles
- Taxis offering multiple pickups/drop offs – some parish councils have supported and implemented a rota for taxis to help people complete journeys
- E-cargo bike scheme for local deliveries
How can complex data/statistics be turned into simple messages to help the public understand their role in transport decarbonisation?
- Adapt the message to the audience
- Visual images can help convey the message
- Test out the messaging to check it makes sense
- Creating a narrative around the statistics to tell the story
- Sustains visual report – the walking and cycling index
- West Midlands Local Transport Plan Green Paper (tfwm.org.uk) (page 16 onwards)
How do we encourage green energy generation for council assets?
Councils should be demonstrating best practice. Energy costs are significantly increasing, how can we ensure that green energy is still being considered. Schools seen as a low hanging fruit.
- Understand what alternative funding is available e.g. is funding available from green finance or central government?
- Look into what professional support is available to understand the process
- What are the quick wins green energy options for schools that are not as costly?
How do we influence and have some control over the bus routes to stop decline in bus services? How do we get people back on buses?
There has been a decline in bus passenger numbers since the pandemic. Those who use buses are often those that do not own a car and therefore their accessibility would be significantly hindered by the withdrawal of routes.
- Look into franchising
- Demand Responsive Transport has been successful in other authorities to provide access to areas that have not been previously served
- What alternative sources of funding are available? E.g. Mayoral/ Parish precepts, money from parking charges
- Can bus fares be made more affordable?
- Discuss with bus companies to understand what they are prepared to do to make them more attractive. It is in bus companies’ best interest to survive.
How do we reduce car use in areas that aren’t suffering from high levels of congestion?
In some areas the use of sticks to reduce congestion are less relevant. What alternative options are there?
- Look at what incentives could be introduced to reduce car use e.g. house points when children come to school via an active mode or public transport
- Campaigns and events to show people how a city can feel without cars e.g. car free days
- Increase parking charges to invest in public transport infrastructure
- If congestion isn’t a problem, draw on other benefits of reduced car use such as improvements to health and air quality
- Understand what barriers there are to active travel and use of public transport.
How do we overcome barriers of disconnect between different teams within the council when decarbonisation is not at the front of everyone’s minds?
There are often conflicting priorities when it comes to implementing new schemes and the impact this will have on the decarbonisation agenda. A lack of overarching leadership to ensure that decarbonisation is considered as part of any scheme.
- Check team service plans to see if they include reference to decarbonisation
- Look into benefit realisation plans
- Get in touch with public health – they can provide a powerful voice on sustainable transport
- Understand how you can become more visible to the public by tapping into forums
- Open up discussions with different service areas to understand if there can be more flexibility in responding plans to meet the wider climate change objectives
How do you go about implementing car clubs and what are the first steps to be taken?
Challenges around how to promote car clubs within the district, and to better understand the link with planning to ensure that these lifestyle changes are implemented before new residents move in.
- Understand who are the key contacts
- Initial step to talk to planning authority and local highway authority to understand whether car clubs are requested when assessing new planning applications
- Review parking standards to understand if car clubs are currently referenced
- Undertake some soft market testing
- Look into Co-Wheels, CoMo, Energy Saving Trust and Co-Cars who can help with surveying demand, trialling and implementing car clubs.
Can anyone offer examples of behaviour change that has worked?
- Use of data to understand the motivation of people
- Explore using comms to highlight how expensive owning a car is
- Comms team have dedicated to active travel promotion. They build relationships with businesses and employers
- Sponsors of capital projects need to have an element of behaviour change in their projects (e.g. free bus tickets for new housing developments)
- Focusing on one section of the population to trial ideas to generate more confidence before a wider roll out.
How do we ensure when determining applications that the top of hierarchy of users is put first?
The use of predict and provide is still prevalent within planning authorities. New policy ideas such as decide and provide and sustainable hierarchy of users are still not being applied in some areas. How can we ensure sufficient attention is given to vulnerable users?
- Discuss with the planning authority to ensure that they understand how the hierarchy should be applied and to understand if there are any concerns/ barriers to them applying it
- Could policies be introduced that focus on addressing the higher section of the hierarchy?
- Consider adding a point system to the planning process that is transport focussed
- Ensure that transport statements/ assessments are highlighting other modes which will help make the case for planners. Request additional information from developers if not included.